Reading the classics

Reading the classics:

This is my application to become a member of the inspiring Classics Club:

theclassicsclubblog.wordpress.com

old-books-wide-hd-wallpaper

My plan is not as precise as it might be.  It may have glaring omissions that have been caused by my recent reading.  I hope to read at least one novel by novelists and a significant number of poems by poets.  With people like George Meredith and Thomas Hardy, I plan to do some of each.  When I have not specified titles it is because I have read the books in the past and will do rereading.  I’ve read everything by Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, and Dickens.   Rereading is always in order but how to tell if on any particular day I long for Daniel Deronda or Adam Bede?   Books I have completed are indicated in purple text.  I am only indicating the books read from 2016 forward.

 

  1. Lewis, Sinclair:  a significant number of works. Our Mr. Wrenn; The Innocents, Main Street, Babbitt
  2. Marquand, John P:  The Late George Apley
  3. Stendahl:  The Charterhouse of Parma
  4. Arnold Bennett
  5. Barbara Pym Some Tame Gazelle, Excellent Women, Jane and Prudence
  6. Elizabeth Taylor Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont
  7. Willkie Collins
  8. John Galsworthy
  9. Thomas Hardy
  10. Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
  11. Daphne De Maurier
  12. Henry James
  13. Rose Macauley
  14. Somerset Maugham
  15. Herman Melville
  16. George Meredith
  17. Nancy Mitford
  18. Toni Morrison
  19. Iris Murdoch
  20. Vladimir Nabokov   Pnin
  21. VS Naipaul
  22. Edward Rutherfurd
  23. Carol Shields
  24. CP Snow
  25. Leo Tolstoy
  26. William Trevor
  27. Anthony Trollope The Last Chronicle of Barset
  28. Sarah Waters
  29. Thornton Wilder
  30. AN Wilson
  31. George Eliot
  32. Gibbon (excerpts)
  33. Thackeray
  34. Updike
  35. Roth
  36. Richard Yates
  37. Joyce, Ulysses
  38. Dickens
  39. Mann:  Buddenbrooks and The Magic Mountain
  40. Conrad
  41. Faulkner
  42. Hemingway
  43. Turgenev
  44. Pushkin
  45. Robert Penn Warren
  46. Dostoevsky
  47. Jane Austen
  48. John Cheever
  49. Peter Taylor
  50.  Pulitzer Prize winners—fiction and poetry and drama
  51. Man Booker winners and short list and long list selections

STORIES:

Chekhov

Katherine Mansfield

Jane Gardam

Poetry

  1. Anthony Hecht, both early and late poems
  2. Wordsworth:  shorter poems and The Prelude
  3. Keats:  the Great Odes
  4. Robert Browning:  significant dramatic monologues
  5. Seamus Heaney
  6. Tennyson
  7. Robert Frost
  8. Yeats
  9. TS Eliot
  10. Wallace Stevens
  11. George Szirtes
  12. ee cummings
  13. WH Auden
  14. Elizabeth Bishop
  15. Philip Larkin
  16. Theodore Roethke
  17. John Berryman
  18. Shakespeare’s sonnets
  19. Thomas Hardy
  20. George Meredith
  21. Gerard Manley Hopkins
  22. Algernon Charles Swinburns
  23. Matthew Arnold
  24. DG & Christina Rossetti
  25. John Hollander

DRAMA:

Shakespeare

Ibsen

Williams

Pinter The Caretaker

Ben Jonson

Chekhov

Manifestations of cheese

cheese_imported

I enjoy this sincere effusion-ode to cheese.  I am a cheese agnostic:  I should have been born in a better country for the love of cheese to race through my veins.  My taste is unadventurous and Hall’s poem makes me wish that I had the talent to embrace cheese in all of its splendour.  I have not the tongue to enjoy a streak of blue fracking through a block of cheese or the Italian cheese which presents itself as a riot of maggots—casu marzu.

How I love Hall’s exuberance!  It’s good to know that some cheeses are loyal and others are wise.

O Cheese
by Donald Hall

In the pantry the dear dense cheeses, Cheddars and harsh
Lancashires; Gorgonzola with its magnanimous manner;
the clipped speech of Roquefort; and a head of Stilton
that speaks in a sensuous riddling tongue like Druids.

O cheeses of gravity, cheeses of wistfulness, cheeses
that weep continually because they know they will die.
O cheeses of victory, cheeses wise in defeat, cheeses
fat as a cushion, lolling in bed until noon.

Liederkranz ebullient, jumping like a small dog, noisy;
Pont l’Évêque intellectual, and quite well informed; Emmentaler
decent and loyal, a little deaf in the right ear;
and Brie the revealing experience, instantaneous and profound.

O cheeses that dance in the moonlight, cheeses
that mingle with sausages, cheeses of Stonehenge.
O cheeses that are shy, that linger in the doorway,
eyes looking down, cheeses spectacular as fireworks.

Reblochon openly sexual; Caerphilly like pine trees, small
at the timberline; Port du Salut in love; Caprice des Dieux
eloquent, tactful, like a thousand-year-old hostess;
and Dolcelatte, always generous to a fault.

O village of cheeses, I make you this poem of cheeses,
O family of cheeses, living together in pantries,
O cheeses that keep to your own nature, like a lucky couple,
this solitude, this energy, these bodies slowly dying.

“O Cheese” by Donald Hall from Old and New Poems.

“The Fascination with What’s Difficult”

childreading

When I was six—as AA Milne would say—I read books.  As soon as I finished a book I turned right back and reread it.  And again.  And again.   I was a rereader and discovered that rereading was a source of endless delight.    When a book was too difficult, I would force myself to continue thinking in a vaguely Wordsworthian way that I was storing up great wealth for future years.

I unwittingly became an insufferable snob—or, to be kind, I developed good taste.  I wanted to experience what the adults did and started reading Proust, Joyce, and Virginia Woolf plus many poets by the time I was 13.  I knew that someday these books would become as transparent as Dick, Jane, and Sally.  I was wrong about that, but with each rereading comes greater pleasure.   This blog is dedicated to re-reading and re-re-reading.

I don’t have many people to speak with about books.  Mr. Gubbinal is great, but he’s extremely academic and often cannot remove himself from that arcane jargon of the pedant.  It seems as if there are millions of people writing poetry but few willing to read it.

I hope that this blog will become my friend and confidante.   It is to be my own private Henry Jamesian ‘ficelle’.  Now on to the hard part:  I think it will be more difficult to master tags and links than to try to explicate The Waste Land.

 

 

Initial thoughts

I have decided to very slowly creep back into an organized life: all has been chaos but I would like to impose some discipline.
Reading
Music
Cats
Mortality
Writing
Walking
Tea

Mustard Poultices

I have bustled — no, to be honest—slouched with padded foot and sullen mien—into retirement and have become obsessed with a Fitbit. I cling to my Fitbit and check my number of steps, my mileage, and my hours of sleep as if it is one and only amulet that I hold up to resist that demon Death. Could death really attack an elderly lady with a plum colored fitbit on her wrist?